Nature in Action and story stones

Have you ever watched a caterpillar actually go through all the cycles until it is a butterfly or moth?  We were fortunate to do that this month:

Day 1: James' caterpillar trap

Day 1: Caterpillar caught
Day 2: he started doing this
Day 2: he kept at it
Day 3: still working first thing in the morning
Day 3: 1/2 hour later
Day 3: 1 hour later
Day 4: first thing in the morning 
Day 4: All finished
About 20 days later
A brown moth!
Setting him free
After seeing the fun in real life I decided to help the kids make something to remember "buddy."  Yes, my kids named it as they do everything. I have been wanting to do story stones for a long time as well as painting on rocks with crayons.  So we tried both out at the same time.

I first saw the idea of story stones at Childhood 101.  She found the idea elsewhere.  Story stones are a way for children to tell a story through looking at pictures on the stones to inspire ideas.  Simple ideas are best.  When I saw this idea I thought it would be fun to make story stones from books or things we had done so the kids could remember and tell the story using the stones in their own way.

Painting on rocks with crayons is super easy.  All you need to do is gather stones, wash them, put them in a 350 degree oven on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.   While they are "cooking" peel the wrapper off off the crayons you want to use.  Once the rocks are hot and ready, use a hot pad (they are very hot) to transfer them to a protected table.  Make sure your children understand not to touch.  Then let them see what happens when the crayon touches the rock.

a little like tall painting (maybe next time we will have to find tall rocks to do this with.
Ally making mandalas
Ally liked blowing the puddles of crayon wax to make a cool effect
I didn't want to force the kids into doing something that was my idea so I made the butterfly cycle for my stones as they started on their own thing (drawing with melted crayon is hard.  Next time I will stick to abstract art!)  Funny that James' first stone he did was a butterfly and then when he saw me doing the whole cycle on mine he had to do the same.

My moth life cycle (I am not an artist so don't judge) --

James' butterfly life cycle --

Our mandalas --

Our abstract stones --

My Notes:

  • The mandalas turned out the prettiest of all of them  -- my suggestion if you do this at home is to work on mandalas or abstract type art, but again, just letting your kids explore themselves is best of all.  

  • We kept our rocks in the oven after the 15 minutes and just took one for each of us out at a time.  I did turn the oven off, but it stayed hot enough for us to work for about 30-40 minutes.  

  • My kids did want to touch the rocks and after a couple "ow" screams they started using an oven mitt in their non writing hand.  They felt safer that way.  

  • My baby woke up at the end of the project and wanted to do it.  She did just fine, but the rocks were not as hot at the end.  I think braving it with little ones is ok.  I touched my rocks too and it isn't that hot that they get burn marks or anything.  They learn fast just not to touch the rocks.  

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  1. I love this!! How cool to watch the life cycle of the moth! I bet your kids loved it! I will definitely have to try the rock painting with my kids, super fun!

  2. Laura! Andrew, Isaac and I are devouring this blog, pics of our friends (your kids) and dreaming up projects to do together! (this is what they always say now; "when we get to our new house and get our stuff out of boxes...!") Funny, poor kids, eh! Love you and miss you!

  3. Oooh, I love seeing the life cycle in pics. My son loved it too!


  4. What wonderful pictures! What a great summer learning activity. Even though my kids are teens I think we must try the hot rock coloring project! How fun- thanks for the fun ideas! ~April

  5. Such a gorgeous post! Its amazing to see that lifecycle in full swing and close-up. And I think the pebbles look a bit magical :)

  6. This is amazing!! I can't wait to try this idea! I loved the pictures of the caterpillars life cycle too. Incredible!

  7. This is amazing!! I can't wait to try this idea! I loved the pictures of the caterpillars life cycle too. Incredible!

  8. Laura,
    What a wonderful learning experience it was about the caterpillar lifecycle. Loved the photos. Hope we can do this too.
    And the rock paintings were gorgeous!
    You guys are doing and learning so much :)


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